Monday, 3 April 2017

On Keeping Silent

It's already April and I haven't been writing.

I'm not really sure why. Although it seems ridiculous to write about not writing, I think it's probably the only way I'll begin to understand what's going on.

For me, writing is like bleeding. It comes naturally but at cost. Like donating blood, there's great satisfaction in the hope that it can do someone else some good. But give away too much and I find myself in need of a transfusion.

That's when I stop writing and increase my reading. I'm reading all sorts at the moment - on mortality and capitalism, Italian fiction and parenting books. The bible, obviously. Porter magazine and Shooter literary journals. A multifaceted patchwork of inspiration. In much the same way as when I started this blog [newly married and unemployed], I'm finding things and people that help me feel my way through the changes. It's lovely and complex. A metamorphosis.

And I think I want a chrysalis - a little cocoon of safety and silence to do my growing in. I don't always want everyone to know all the things I'm experiencing. I don't want to give away everything for free. I want to reserve some things for the people who care to ask, the people who make themselves essential by being present and supportive in whatever ways they can manage.

Therein lies the tension. Authenticity verses intimacy. Because I don't know how to write from a place that isn't personal, and I don't think I want to either. I want to offer a voice that side-steps pretence and says something real. Otherwise, what's the point? Isn't the world noisy enough?

I'm learning a balance. I'm learning that leaving some things unsaid, some tweets unanswered, stepping back from the self-imposed treadmill of updates and taking time out - this is not necessarily the death of authenticity. This is sanity. Time away from blogging, time away from Facebook over this past Lent, time with family or a wonderful book - not in order to unearth some cosmic lesson to be shared with the world, but for its own sake - these things are life-giving. 

I am learning to let myself have different levels of permeability and transparency, and maybe forgo some adulation in the process. I think I've been writing a little like I'm a product on display in a shop window - letting it all hang out and hoping other people will respond positively to what I'm offering. I've been treating myself like a brand or a resource - indiscriminately exploiting every thought and emotion for the sake of having something to say as I attempt to live into this idea of myself as a "writer". 

Which is okay for a season. But it's not sustainable. And it's also not relevant in the long-term, when what really matters is my standing with / identity in God.

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Psalm 16v5-6 (NIV)

I want instead to be a well-built house, a solid structure. I have windows and doors and walls. You can see in. You might even be able to come in. But there are integral boundaries that hold me together, and not everyone has the keys.

I am learning I can be open and still guard the intimacies that should stay where they belong - in the secret places of my life in the real world.
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